Frequently Asked Questions about Crane’s Life

Frequently Asked Questions about Stephen Crane’s Life

Crane died very young, before his 29th birthday.  What caused his death? Crane died of tuberculosis, a common cause of death before antibiotics and other drugs were discovered to treat the disease. He had had the disease for a long time. According to The Crane Log, he suffered a lung hemorrhage on 29 December 1899 but kept writing to pay the bills throughout the spring of 1900.  He had  more hemorrhages on March 31st, and by April 14, the Academy, a journal, noted that Crane was “lying seriously ill at the mediaeval house in Sussex, Brede Place, where he has been living for the past two years.” At the end of May, 1900, Cora Crane takes Stephen to Badenweiler, Baden, for treatment, in a last-ditch effort to save his life. Crane continues to dictate portions of his last novel, The O’Ruddy, but dies on June 5, 1900.

Did Crane base The Red Badge of Courage on his experiences in the Civil War?No, Crane was born in 1871, six years after the war ended.

Did Crane interview Civil War veterans for the book? 

In his background reading for “The Red Badge of Courage,” Crane almost undoubtedly encountered some of the published personal narratives by Union veterans who had seen action in the ranks such as Wilbur F. Hinman’s Corporal Si Klegg and His “‘Pard'” (1887 or Warren Lee Goss’s popular “Recollections of a Private/A Story of the Army of the Potomac” (1890). These memoirs traced the development of a recruit into a veteran. Crane most likely set out to write such a narrative and first titled his manuscript “Private Fleming/His Various Battles.” Somewhere along the line his focus shifted from external to internal battles and the relationship of the individual to society and the cosmic processes as reflected in the mind of a single soldier. Consequently he changed his title to “The Red Badge of Courage/An Episode of the American Civil War.”

Stanley Wertheim 5/7/02

How many brothers and sisters did Crane have? 

Crane was the 14th and last child of Jonathan Townley Crane and Mary Helen (Peck) Crane (Crane Log 1). According to The Crane Log, “Only 8 of the 13 children who preceded Stephen are alive at the time of his birth” (1). His siblings are as follows (all references are from The Crane Log or from Thomas Gullason’s Stephen Crane’s Literary Family ) :

William Howe Crane (1854-1926) practiced law in Port Jervis, N. Y. and later retired to California. Gullason: “William was at Wesleyan University for a year, then New York University, before graduating from Albany Law School” (2).

Jonathan Townley Crane, Jr. (pronounced “Toonley”) (1858-1908) “died indigent in the local hospital” in Binghamton, N. Y. (xxxii)

Agnes Elizabeth Crane, a surrogate mother to Crane and a schoolteacher, d. 10 June 1884 at age 28 of “cerebrospinal meningitis in the home of her brother Edmund at Rutherford, New Jersey” (32).

Wilbur Fiske Crane (1859-1918) Gullason: “Wilbur attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia College from 1881-1886” (2). d. in a small town in Georgia.

Edmund Crane (450).

Mary Helen Crane Murray-Hamilton (451). Gullason: “Mary Helen (“Nellie”) graduated from Pennington Seminary and Female Collegiat Institute (where the Reverend Mr. Crane had served for nine years as its principal)” (1).

George Crane. George, Wilbur, William, Edmund, and Mary Helen were present at Stephen Crane’s funeral service at the Central Metropolitan Temple on 28 June 1900 (451).

Luther P. Crane d. 26 September 1886 in a fall beneath the wheels of a moving train (35). Gullason: “Three brothers, Luther, Wilbur, and Edmund (one alumni directory lists William instead of Edmund), along wth Agnes, went on to Centenary Collegiate Institute (now Centenary College)” (1).

Was Crane ever married? 

Crane had a common-law marriage with Cora Stewart.  Her husband would not divorce her, so she and Crane could not be legally married, although Crane always called her “Mrs. Crane.”  The two had no children.
You can find this information in various biographies of Crane, The Stephen Crane Encyclopedia by Stanley Wertheim, and  and also inThe Crane Log by Paul Sorrentino and Stanley Wertheim.

I have to write a paper on “The Open Boat” and naturalism (or “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” and color imagery, or another topic). Can you help me?You can find some help in the Student Queries section of this site.  The questions and references there should help you with your paper.  Also, you can search the bibliographies for secondary sources that would be relevant to your topic. Some individual bibliographies, such as the one on “The Blue Hotel,” are also available. Your professor or teacher will be the best source of help for specific questions about your paper. Sorry–we are not able to respond individually.  Unique or specific queries are posted to the Student Queries page, where members of the Crane Society may respond to them.

Where can I find Crane criticism online?The best criticism on Crane is published in books and peer-reviewed journals rather than online. Many peer-reviewed journals are available online, however, through services such as ProQuest or Project Muse.  If you’re a college or university student, or if you live near a college or university, the university library will be your best source for criticism on Crane.  Most libraries will have several of the journals and books listed in the Crane Bibliographies.

Did Crane write a poem with these lines? (or) Did Crane ever write a story called “—“?If you want to find a particular poem, story, or phrase, try the Search feature first, for it may give you an immediate answer.

How do I cite a page at the Stephen Crane Society site?

This depends on the style your instructor prefers (MLA, Chicago, Turabian), but Diana Hacker’s site and a site from the Duke University libraries provide some good examples. Hacker’s site also includes examples of in-text citation.The MLA site also has good examples at note that although your Works Cited page should use hanging indents (i.e., indent the second line five spaces more than the first line), this can’t be done easily on a web page. Also, the web address URL may be on a separate line since the space here is limited, but it should not be (or does not have to be) on a separate line in your document. Adjust your formatting accordingly.

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